We sat down with Leo Oliva to chat all things ‘Home Invasion’, his latest TV Series releasing on June 20th on Viaplay.
Can you tell us about the TV series, Home Invasion?
Yes so, ‘Home Invasion’ is a series that on the deeper side of things, explores the true layers of family dynamics. Specifically, the family you choose. The series tells the story of two out of practice thieves who embark on one last heist to pay off a debt. Upon breaking into the house of the ‘Family’ Family, a group of mismatched aliens struggling to portray the ideal American family, things start to go epically wrong. From a laser blasts to time travel and teleportation, the thieves are in for the ride of their lives as they struggle to learn to work together with the aliens and save the planet from total destruction by their AI Security Home System CASIE played by Morena Baccarin. It’s a crazy rollercoaster of fun and games that lead to Mick(me) being knocked around a few more times than I expected…even though I had a hand in the development process. It was so much fun!
How did you get involved in the project?
Funny story. On the heels of the success of my first feature,‘The Shift’ – a medical drama about one 12-hour shift in an ER starring myself and Danny Glover, a friend reached out with a feature film and asked if I would like to play the lead role and produce it with the help of my producing partner Melanie DiPietro. After a fantastic table read with gut-busting laughter, we knew we had our next project. With his blessing, we brought on a brilliant writer, Corey Scott, and began the process of working the rough draft into a movie. As life would have it, during this time, the industry made a hard left and TV became our only option get it made. We then set out to rework the project into one that would sustain a six-episode arc. No easy task, we spent countless days and weeks reworking the scripts over the course of one month with the help of our director and VFX specialist, Don Bitters III.
You play Mick Pearson can you explain your character?
Mick Pearson is the thief with a heart of gold. Having spent the last seven years in prison after taking the fall for his best friend for a robbery gone wrong, Mick returns to cash in on that debt. Using a little blackmail to enlist the lock picking skills of his best friend Tom, now the Assistant District Attorney, they make their way to what is supposed to be a simple heist. It turns out to be…out of this world (Cheesy but true!). By the end, they realize the true meaning of friendship and rekindle their bond through a series of harrowing obstacles where instead of fighting one another, they fight for one another.
Official Poster‘Home Invasion’
How did you prepare for the role?
I’d like to start by saying that although I am a producer on the project, and in the project’s infancy the role was inspired from me, I made it a point to not have the role handed to me. I made sure that our team, including the studio, EPs, and amazing casting director Jessica Sherman all knew that as the project had grown over time, I needed to be put through the same audition process asthe other actors to make sure that I was the best option for the role. I worked alongside many brilliant actors and ultimately, after an amazing chemistry read with my amazing co-star Ross Philips, I locked in the role of Mick.
In preparation for the role, the first thing I had to do was drop about fifteen pounds of muscle. I was in the midst of gearing up for my next self-produced feature 100% in which I play a bodybuilder struggling with his obsession to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, you can only imagine that process. After that, it was all about finding time to split between producing the project and honing in on Mick Pearson, the lovable ex-con with a heart of gold. My days were consumed with breaking down all the episodes, meeting with the rest of the cast to rehearse, as well as prepping for an international production what would take me to Budapest for three months. Some people call it work. I call it fun.
Can you share some of the highs and lows as your character?
Not too different from myself,Mick’s highest highs come through when he’s doing everything he can for his friends. More of a lover than a fighter, Mick may play tough at times, but finds himself being the punching bag more than the boxer.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the TV show?
More than anything, I’m hoping that audiences will take a few laughs and some fun time shared with their family. But on a deeper level, the show aims to show us, humans, as one people. The fact that the Alien family is comprised of mixed races is a purposeful choice. We wanted to present the idea that from the outside, and ultimately the inside, we are all the same. All we need to do is love one another and work together to make the world a better place, and hopefully, save it.
How did you juggle producing on set and acting?
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. All joking aside, the thing that makes it easier is having an amazing producer like Melanie by my side. We both see my ability to straddle the line between acting and producing as an asset. Wearing both hats allows me to have my finger on the pulse of the overall experience of both the talent and the crew. It makes it easier for us to manage a larger set and cater high profile talent. But, when it comes to days when the acting needs my undivided attention, Melanie takes over all aspects of production so that I can do what I came to do. And what I love to do is bring the characters to life in front of the camera.
Do you prefer TV or film roles, and why?
I used to be a film only person, because of its more often than not higher production value as well as its contained world and experience. But, as times have changed bringing us shows with highly developed characters as well as cinematic film level production value, I’ve come to have a huge respect for TV and am finding a new home away from home there.
How can people see the new TV show?
On June 20th, ‘Home Invasion’ will be released on the streaming service Viaplay in the Nordic territories. They plan on systematically releasing it across the globe with a US release later this year. If you’re like me and REALLLY in the mood to get your hands on it, a VPN might be the way to go.